Ray Gets 10 Year Sentence for Aggravated Arson and Aggravated Burglary

November 15, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

A man accused of setting fire to a cabin on Smith Fork Road near Dowelltown almost three years ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, November 14.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

40-year-old Joseph Huff Ray entered a plea to charges of aggravated arson and aggravated burglary. He received a 10-year sentence in each case to serve as a range I offender at 30% before his release eligibility date. The two terms are to run concurrently. Ray was given jail credit of 1,036 days. His restitution amount is to be determined.

The investigation began after a fire was reported at the cabin on January 12, 2020 at 10:27 p.m. The owner was not occupying the cabin at the time having used it as a seasonal residence. The cabin was destroyed in the blaze.

During the investigation, a detective of the Sheriff’s Department learned that sometime prior to the fire Joseph Huff Ray and his girlfriend had apparently broken into and taken up residence in the cabin without the knowledge of the owner.

The detective later learned that Ray and his girlfriend had posted photos of the cabin on their facebook page which were made prior to the fire. There were also facebook photos of a tractor parked near the cabin and a set of antique keys to the cabin. The keys were posted for sale. The photos were shown to the owner of the cabin who identified the property as belonging to him.

TBI assisted in the investigation at the scene.

In other cases, 49-year-old Jeffery Lynn Sanders entered a plea to charges of theft over $1,000 and vandalism over $1,000 and received a sentence of two years on probation in each case to run consecutively. Remaining counts and cases against him are to be dismissed subject to this plea agreement and he was given credit for time served. A restitution amount is to be determined.

37-year-old Jonathon David Thomas entered a plea to sale of a schedule II drug and aggravated burglary. He received a five-year sentence in the drug case and three years for the burglary to run consecutive for a total sentence of eight years. Thomas was fined $2,000 and given jail credit of 442 days.

42-year-old Clifton Murphy entered a plea to theft under $1,000 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to six months of supervised probation and six months of good behavior probation.

51-year-old Christopher Pack entered a plea to evading arrest and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation. The term is to run consecutive to his Wilson County probation.

26-year-old Anthony Marquall Love entered a plea by criminal information to two counts of criminal simulation and received a two-year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of four years but suspended to probation. He was given jail credit of 86 days.

43-year-old Angel Tamayo entered a plea to violation of the sex offender registry and received a one-year sentence all suspended to probation except for time served and to run concurrent with a White County sentence against him. He was given jail credit of 237 days.

55-year-old Dana Cantrell entered a plea to sale of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) over 0.5 grams and received an eight-year suspended sentence. He was fined $2,000.

Meanwhile on November 3, 42-year-old Terry Maynard entered a plea to sale of a schedule II drug under 0.5 grams and receive a three-year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000.

(UPDATED) Three Men Deer Hunting From Roadway Arrested After Firing Shot Which Goes Through Residence

November 16, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray announced Tuesday, November 15 that a third arrest has been made in the case where a shot was fired which went through a residence near Alexandria earlier this month while the occupants were at home. Criminal charges have now been brought against three men who were reportedly road hunting for deer at the time.

41-year-old Jeremie Donald Johnson of Alexandria to Dismal Road, Liberty, 22-year-old Isaac Daniel Hall of Gassaway Main Street, Liberty, and 21-year-old Elijah Thomas Hall of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville are each charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of vandalism. Johnson is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon while Isaac Hall is facing additional charges of aggravated burglary and theft of property in a separate case. Bond for Johnson is $50,000 and $60,000 for Isaac Hall. The bond for Elijah Hall is $25,000. All three will make a court appearance on December 1.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on November 5 after receiving a report from a resident on Lower Helton Road, Alexandria that someone had fired a shot through his home, sheriff’s department detectives started an investigation which pointed to two men, Johnson and Isaac Hall, who had allegedly fired a shot from the roadway while deer hunting which went through the residence where a man and woman were present placing them in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Although the residents were not injured from the shooting, more than $1,200 in vandalism was reported inside their home including damage to a window, interior walls, and a light fixture.

Johnson, a convicted felon for different offenses of aggravated assault in DeKalb and Wilson County, was found to be in possession illegally of several firearms upon his arrest on November 11.

Isaac Hall was also found to be in possession of several weapons at the time of his arrest on November 11 which the detectives learned were stolen from a residence either that day or the day before on Hurricane Ridge Road.

Sheriff Ray said the investigation revealed that Isaac Hall had broken into the home on Hurricane Ridge Road and taken a Remington 7-millimeter rifle, 22 caliber Ruger rifle, and a 50-caliber muzzleloader all valued at $3,900 which were all in Isaac Hall’s possession upon his arrest. The homeowner also reported missing from his home a 357 Magnum Remington.

Meanwhile, 44-year-old Arturo Alfaro Munoz of South Mountain Street, Smithville is charged with failure to appear. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance December 1. Sheriff Ray said that Munoz failed to report to the jail to serve his weekend sentence as ordered by the court.

Grand Jury Returns First Degree Murder Indictment Against Martinez in Fatal Hammer Attack on his Girlfriend

November 14, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

The man who allegedly beat his girlfriend to death with a hammer in September has been indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury for first degree murder.

35-year-old Simon Rodriguez Martinez will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on December 6.

Martinez was indicted by the new term of the Grand Jury on Monday, November 14 charging him with first degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Yuri Guerra. The incident occurred at the couple’s trailer home at 620 South Mountain Street on September 21.

Following a 25-minute preliminary hearing in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on October 11, Judge Brandon Cox found probable cause to bind the case to the DeKalb County Grand Jury. Bond for Martinez was later set by Criminal Court Judge Wesley Bray at $2 million.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, who was present for the preliminary hearing in October, said afterward that prosecutors had not yet decided on the punishment to be sought against Martinez in the case.

The only witness to testify during the October preliminary hearing was TBI special agent Brandon Davenport, who was summoned to the scene the morning of the killing. He was questioned by Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong and Assistant Public Defender Allison West about what the investigation revealed.

Martinez, who apparently doesn’t speak English, sat quietly in the courtroom near the assistant public defender who represented him and an interpreter who was translating for him during Davenport’s testimony.

Davenport said he questioned Martinez after the killing, and he admitted getting into a domestic dispute with Guerra over allegations of infidelity. According to Davenport, Martinez claims to have pushed Guerra down during the struggle and that she grabbed the hammer and struck him with it. Martinez claims he then took the hammer away from Guerra and struck her once. Davenport said Martinez’s version of the story is not supported by the evidence in that the condition of Guerra’s body shows multiple blows to her head. After the killing, Martinez allegedly admitted to taking a shower and throwing away his bloody clothes. Three children were present in the home at the time of the killing and the oldest, a 14-year-old witnessed the attack and gave a statement to investigators.

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